a professor of government at Harvard and another member of the bioethics council, has attempted to justify a Harkin-like position. Here’s what he writes in a personal statement attached to a council report on alternative sources of stem cells: “As one who supports embryonic stem cell research, I do not regard the early embryo as inviolable. But neither do I regard it as disposable, open to any use we may desire or devise. For this reason, embryo research carries a special moral burden; it is justified only for the sake of saving human lives or curing devastating diseases. The proposal to genetically engineer a nonviable, embryo-like being would remove the moral burden by creating something that, lacking the capacity to develop into a human person, would be wholly disposable, presumably for any purpose, weighty or trivial. The very project of creating such a being is morally troubling, for reasons that are well-stated in the ethical analysis (pp. 38-45 above). I therefore do not believe that this proposal should be encouraged or endorsed.” So experimenting on “embryo-like beings” is more troubling than experimenting on embryos . . . because it’s less troubling. I guess you have to be a professor at Harvard to come up with an argument that profound.
(The reference to pp. 38-45 of the report does not rescue this position. Much of it drags it deeper into the muck. For example, the report notes that the creation of these biological entities could involve the exploitation of women for their egg cells–an objection that applies equally to the cloning research that Sandel favors.)